In the aftermath of the midterm elections, there’s no shortage of easy explanations for the outcome, and everyone’s an expert. Pundits say the Democrats didn’t allow President Barack Obama to campaign enough, or featured him too much. They didn’t talk enough about the economy. They went too negative, or weren’t negative enough. The Republicans ran better, less extreme candidates. Variously, gerrymandering, vote suppression, vote fraud, or big money made the difference. Of course, the real reasons are far more complex. In the weeks and months ahead, we’ll comb through the data to learn more, but right now one fact is painfully clear: Citizens showed up to vote at lower rates than in any federal election since the middle of World War II. Preliminary data indicate that national turnout was below 37 percent. That means nearly 2 in 3 eligible voters, or approximately 144 million American citizens—more than the population of Russia—chose to sit this election out. The nation hasn’t seen turnout this low in any federal general election since 1942. Even in recent midterms, when the turnout was remarkably low, it still exceeded 40 percent, meaning millions more Americans voted in 2006 and 2010 than in 2014.
Examples of the problem can be seen in New Mexico and Nevada, which, despite high-profile statewide races at several levels (governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, etc., as well as a U.S. Senate race in New Mexico), saw their lowest turnouts in a federal election since before 1980. Nevada in particular stands out: Turnout there plummeted to less than 32 percent, a drop of almost 10 percentage points compared with 2010.
While the overall numbers are dismal, Republicans’ efforts to turn out the vote appeared to be far more successful than Democrats’. In Colorado and Nevada, where the majority of votes are cast by mail or in person in advance of Election Day, data show that Republicans voted at much higher rates than Democrats.
Full Article: 2014 Midterms Defined by Low Voter Turnout.